Tuesday, November 17, 2009

So You Think You Can Dance, Season 6 - Top 18

I was a bit disappointed last night with our Top 18, and it sounded like the judges were, too. I think this has to do with a few things:
  1. The New Stage. I just don't feel as "up close and personal" with the dancers as in previous seasons. Some of the great dances of seasons past greatly benefited from that round stage (i.e. "Hometown Glory", "The Moment I Said It"...come to think of it, Mia Michaels really worked that stage), and the Season 6 routines could use some of its circular love.
  2. Ballroom Choreographers. I'm certainly not a ballroom expert, and I usually roll my eyes when the dancers pick out Foxtrot or Viennese Waltz because, let's be honest, they are usually a boring dud. The instances in which I find this untrue are more often than not when the routines are brilliantly crafted by either Louis Van Amstel (i.e. the only piece I ever liked Asuka or Vitolio in last season - the Enya Waltz) or, my personal favorite ballroom dream team, Jean-Marc and Frances Généreux (lest we forget Season 4's touchingly beautiful "A New Day" Viennese Waltz with Twitch and Kherington). This dynamic duo has been disappointingly absent from Season 6, yet it seems we have had more ballroom than ever! Bring back the crazy antics of Jean-Marc and the offensively orange hair of Frances!!! Tony Meredith and Melanie LaPatin have certainly given us some great routines in the past, but I think they're being spread a little too thin this season.
  3. Mismatched Pairings. I'll talk about this more when I get to the couples....but let me just say this: Channing should thank her lucky stars she is going to be paired with a real partner now. Poor thing.
Okay, on to the Top 18....

I enjoyed Russell and Noelle's hip hop tennis match for the most part. I thought the two had great chemistry together, certainly better than Russell's chemistry last week with Bette Midler, I mean Melanie LaPatin. New choreographer Jamal Sims was smart to use a theme, as many times the hip hop routines all begin to blend together (you hear that, Shane Sparks??). I, like Mary Murphy, kept watching Noelle for signs of weakness from her knee injury, and, unlike Mary Murphy, I saw that heinous aerial. It reminded me of attempting cartwheels in the backyard - which is not a memory I should have while watching SYTYCD. Noelle certainly seems like a sweet girl, but she's going to have to start delivering once we starting voting.

Okay, I get it. Ashleigh is married. She's in a routine about marriage. It's funny because she's married and her husband is on the show. Can we please move on now? The sweaty couple was lovely in this Viennese Waltz, but for the second week in a row Ashleigh wasn't asked to do much of anything. Jakob is clearly carrying this couple, which is both a positive and a negative. Positive because he is able to shine and receive heaps of praise for his performance, but if Ashleigh starts negatively affecting the partnership, it could drag Jakob down into the bottom (think Phillip and Jeanine last season). Then again, would it be so bad to see Jakob perform a solo and Ashleigh go home? I think I might be onto something here. Side Note: How about Shankman's dig at Tony and Melanie regarding too many lifts and Jakob leaps? Considering how "choreographer praise-y" the judges usually are (like last week when Mary Murphy said David Scott's name about 35,000 times), this felt both refreshing and awkward at the same time.

I'm not sure what it is about Tyce this season, but I just can't stand him. Neither of his Broadway routines have been particularly inspired or exciting, and I just want to grab the nearest sharp object and get that chinstrap off his face. Victor and Bianca weren't really feeling the love of the Lord, and I wasn't really feeling any love for them. My indescribable dislike of Victor continues...was is it about him I don't like?? Bianca looked a little crazy, and her talent level in this genre wasn't even close to that of Victor, making it seem a little "Dancing with the Stars" to me. Sorry, Bianca, you know I love you!

Ohhhhhh, Nathan and Mollee. Bless your hearts. The two pre-pubescents tackled a Nakul Dev Mahajan (try saying that 10 times fast) Bollywood routine, or as my "super fave OMG bff" couple described it, "Molleewood Does Bollywood in Hollywood." Shoot me. This was an incredibly dramatic production - loved the entrance, and who doesn't love a good sword fight? Boy, that Nathan sure can turn, huh? And as much as I loathe Mollee, she is starting to mature a bit when it comes to her dancing. That being said, I really missed Season 4's Joshua and Katee while watching this routine. Since they performed the first ever Bollywood routine on SYTYCD, no one has been able to match it, and tonight was no exception. It'll be interesting to see how the Teeny Boppers fare next week once America starts to vote. Personally, I'd like to see Nathan paired up with someone a little more mature and little less....Mollee.

As I mentioned earlier, Channing is really hurtin' for a new partner. And by hurtin' I mean she's lucky Phillip didn't drop her on her head last night. Seriously? It's been a while since we've seen such poor partnering. Channing is really showing some great potential here, and I thought she looked gorgeous doing the Samba. Other than that - not really much to remember about this routine, except maybe Nigel referring to Channing as a sack of potatoes. Good one, Lythgoe.

It only took 6 couples, but the episode finally got exciting! I've been ambivalent towards the Kevin/Karen connection, but that all changed last night. Karen is the epitome of a hot tamale. I daresay she outshone Kevin in his own style, thanks to the gyrating choreography from our favorite hip-hop duo Nappy Tabs. The mechanic theme was fun, and these two killed it (in a good, hip-hop way). I'm thinking Karen is in my Top 4 right now, and I'm excited to see where Kevin goes in the coming weeks.

I'm usually a Stacey Tookey fan - our Canadian contemporary choreographer is cute as a button and produces some great stuff. Tonight's Fear routine was certainly excellent, but I'm not sure if I enjoyed it quite as much as everyone else for two reasons. One being the obvious comparisons to last season's chillingly fantastic Addiction routine by the sorely missed Mia Michaels. The other being Legacy. Wow, he pointed his toes this week. If we are complimenting one of our Top 18 dancers on finally pointing his toes, I think we might have an issue. I remember Season 4's Comfort getting similar praise - and eventually the lack of technique caught up with her. I see a similar fate for Mr. Legacy. Kathryn is surprisingly growing on me. It's been a while since we've heard her glass-shattering cry voice, and she has been delivering some great dancing since we got to the Top 20. She is another dancer who could really use a new partner - hopefully Peter or Jakob will be needing one soon.

Can someone please tell me what was so controversial about Wade Robson's jazz routine? Was it the props, the scenery, the music? None of those seemed particularly controversial to me, and I actually think this was a great routine. Not that we should be surprised - Wade tends to be one of the most consistently "on" choreographers on this show. We've already seen him twice (Meet the Top 20 and tonight)...hopefully he will continue to show up this season. The story behind this piece was really interesting, though is it bad that I wish they had used "In the Hall of Mountain King" for the routine instead of just the rehearsal montage? I agree with the judges that Peter did a much better job than Pauline, which is no surprise since I adore Peter and don't really care for Pauline. Would people really not pick up the phone for this routine versus the Samba or Broadway routines? I'm not so sure about that.

One of the most exciting routines of the night came last, though I don't think it's something even those crafty SYTYCD producers could've planned. I am a Ryan/Ellenore fan (especially since Ellenore didn't say anything stupid this week), so I was already enjoying their Argentine Tango before Ellenore's heel got stuck in her dress. But instead of breaking down, the intensity between the two dancers grew as they both concentrated on not falling victim to the Season 6 injury curse. You could tell they were in tune with each other - did you see that eye contact?? I have chills just thinking about it. They are a couple to be reckoned with, which seems a rarity around the SYTYCD stage this year. Ryan and Ellenore are one of the only couples who are benefiting from their partnership rather than suffering or plateauing. They are definitely going places!

I don't think anyone was particularly shocked by the Bottom 4 this week (though Russell was clearly shaking in his boots). The only solo I really enjoyed was Bianca's "Tootsie Roll," though obviously the judges were partial to Noelle's flailing. In the end, Bianca and Phillip both had tearful goodbyes, and we'll see them do a group number in the finale I'm sure (though who wants to bet we have trouble remember Phillip's name...?).

I am definitely looking forward to the Top 16 next week, and even more to finally getting a say in who remains in the competition! What did you think (if you even made it all this way to the end)? Who are your favorite couples and who are you hoping to see dance for their life next Wednesday?
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